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To Vaccinate or Not for the H1N1 Virus

11/2/2009
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BY

There has been a lot of talk about the H1N1 virus and now the H1N1 vaccine. Some say get the vaccine, some say it may be a health hazard. Who should you believe?

Vaccinations began in Florida recently and continue to be available for certain at risk populations. However, doctors precaution those seeking the H1N1 vaccine to make sure they understand the side effects. Dr. Brian Thornburg, pediatrician in Naples, Fla., recently submitted an article cautioning those receiving the H1N1 vaccine. He cites the National Institute of Health’s website which says the H1N1 vaccine is still undergoing safety trials and the vaccine is only in the phase two stage out of four phases. So what do we really know about the safety of this vaccine and why is the government continuing to distribute it while they are still studying its effectiveness?

Dr. Thornburg also states that the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) claim the H1N1 vaccine and its side effects are “just like the regular seasonal flu shot.”  They claim the “safety and efficacy of the H1N1 vaccine is being researched and results will be available in the near future.” So what exactly is the “near future,” and does that mean the vaccine is presumably safe?

Regardless of the lack of scientific evidence about the H1N1’s safety, the CDC recommends that the vaccine should be initially administered to persons in the following five target groups:

  • pregnant women
  • persons who live with or provide care for infants aged 6 months or younger
  • health-care and emergency medical services personnel
  • persons aged 6 months to 24 years
  • persons aged 25-64 years who have medical conditions that put them at higher risk for influenza-related complications

The CDC also warns that, just like the regular flu strain, neurological complications can occur after a respiratory-tract infection with H1N1, including seizures and mental changes.  A concern was first raised in May 2009 when the Dallas County Department of Health and Human Services reported four children with neurological complications associated with H1N1 flu.

For the most part, the majority of reported cases have been mild or relativity the same severity as the common flu. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) also says that those exposed to the flu epidemic in 1957 may have some immunity to the H1N1 virus, explaining why older persons seem to have no symptoms or mild symptoms when exposed to the H1N1 virus.

The government is encouraging many children and adults to receive this vaccine without adequate safety studies as a result to the media hype. Please make sure you are fully informed before putting yourself or your family in potential jeopardy.

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